Call it the “people’s main event” if you will, but what UFC 266’s Nick Diaz vs. Robbie Lawler 2 boiled down to was a fan-friendly fight.
And frankly, there’s nothing wrong with that. Yes, Robbie Lawler was on a four-fight skid. Sure, Nick Diaz hadn’t fought since 2015. And you know what? It didn’t matter one damn bit.
By the time Diaz had made the walk out to the octagon, sounds of the Deftones echoing through the T-Mobile arena for the second time Saturday night (pupil Nick Maximov also walked out to the California alt metal act), the crowd was in a frenzy.
Diaz vs. Lawler didn’t disappoint, though the end came as a bit of a surprise.
Nick Diaz started out with a spinning kick, and that surprised everyone. He then immediately had to cover up as Lawler charged forward. Diaz was under heavy fire, but caught Lawler with a right hook. Things started to settle down, but Diaz had his back to the fence, with Lawler closing the distance to fire some heavy leather. Diaz responded by ripping the body, but the early swarm from Lawler had Diaz fighting out of a hole.
More body shots followed from Diaz, an attack Lawler replicated. As the round went on, Diaz found his rhythm and range, firing off combos and pressing forward. Punches in bunches were flowing; Diaz covered up by the cage and somehow seemingly just had Lawler’s strikes roll off him.
Diaz went back to his rope-a-dope style early in the second, but Lawler’s shots looked heavy. A kick to the body seemed to hurt Diaz, but he jogged out of harm’s way. Diaz’s volume was impressive, and while lacking the power of Robbie Lawler, which was fully expected, he was landing. A lot.
So was Lawler however. The former welterweight champ finished the second round strong, landing some heavy shots.
The third opened with a number of body strikes from Diaz. Lawler the landed a slick combo along the fence; Diaz fired back in return. He continued to work the body, but a right hand rocked Diaz. Diaz went down to a knee, and a knockout blow just barely missed from Lawler. Diaz sat back, looking to lure Lawler into his guard. Lawler backed off, and when the ref instructed Diaz to get back up, Diaz didn’t answer the call. That was it — with Diaz rocked and bloodied, the fight was done.
REDEMPTION FOR RUTHLESS!
[ @Ruthless_RL| #UFC266 ] pic.twitter.com/2rglBBUhSw
— UFC (@ufc) September 26, 2021
Whether Diaz continues to fight will be a big question. It doesn’t seem as if he necessarily needs to, but he still had some fight in him early in the bout with Lawler. “Ruthless,” meanwhile, gets back in the win column, and said following the fight that Diaz actually “got him going” during camp — clearly bringing out the best in him.
“I had it coming, and he was in great shape,” Diaz said following the fight.
Official Result: Robbie Lawler def. Nick Diaz by TKO, Round 3, 0:44